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Recommended Documentaries

This is a topic where you can say which documentary has really impressed you, and why people should see it. Can be a recent one or an all-time favourite. Can't be your own though, sorry...

We also have a Documentary Films topic for our Professionals where the debate is private and possibly more controversial. This topic here is for recommendations to the documentary-interested public.

This topic is for praising the work of others, not your own. If you want to beat the drum for your own documentary, please don't do it here. Enthusiasts use our Public Classifieds, and Professionals have their own Shameless Self-Promotion topic.

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Eli Brown
Mon 19 Sep 2011Link

I clicked on the rent and it put a "sign up for email notification for when it's available in your area" notice. So, I think it is geo-blocking...


Pablo Alvarez
Wed 21 Sep 2011Link

Yeah, I did too and that sign-up notice appeared and that made me not want to continue. I sort of tune off sites that ask for my emails for basic access.. was that just because of geo-blocking? or do users have to register to watch a film?


Ben Kempas
Wed 21 Sep 2011Link

Eli – At the moment, it's even doing that here in the UK although Dogwoof is a UK distributor. I've emailed Peter to find out.

Pablo – What do you mean, "for basic access"? You need to register in order to make a purchase (VoD or DVD) or to access your previous VoD purchase. You don't need to register to watch the trailer.


Ben Kempas
Wed 21 Sep 2011Link

Update: the bug is fixed, but the film may still not be available in all territories. (You might have to empty your cache before you try again.)


Pablo Alvarez
Thu 22 Sep 2011Link

In reply to Ben Kempas's post on Wed 21 Sep 2011 :

Fair enough.. I guess I just sort of expected to be directed to a page with a slot for a credit card number and then to the film in two simple steps. Its a great service, don't get me wrong... Thing is i just unconsciously seem to close pages that ask for email addresses up front..


John Burgan
Fri 9 Dec 2011Link

Glass is a 1958 Dutch short documentary film by director and producer Bert Haanstra. The film won the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject in 1959. (thanks to my former student Anna in Barcelona for sending this)

Edited Fri 9 Dec 2011 by John Burgan

James Longley
Fri 9 Dec 2011Link

It's great – where did I see this before?
Only I can't stand the sound of jazz vibraphone in film soundtracks. But the editing is pretty terrific.

Edited Fri 9 Dec 2011 by James Longley

John Burgan
Fri 9 Dec 2011Link

Then check out Broadway by Light by William Klein, 1958 – prepare to be blown away)

Edited Fri 9 Dec 2011 by John Burgan

John Burgan
Fri 9 Dec 2011Link

Here's the final one of the three this evening: Portrait of Ga by Margaret Tait (1955) – also a gift from Anna

Edited Fri 9 Dec 2011 by John Burgan

David Herman
Sat 10 Dec 2011Link

lovely indeed.


David Herman
Tue 13 Dec 2011Link

Whoever has not seen 5 broken cameras DO IT (if for no other reason than to question your humanity)


James Longley
Wed 14 Dec 2011Link

That always packs 'em in. People love to question their humanity.
That's an amazing film, though, all joking aside. See it if you can.


James McNally
Thu 22 Dec 2011Link

Forgive me if this has been posted elsewhere (I tried searching) but Jane Weiner is trying to raise funds for her film Ricky On Leacock over on Kickstarter and the deadline is January 1st. The film is only around 30% funded so far and it's an incredibly important project about a towering figure in documentary filmmaking. Please check it out and, if you can, support it with a pledge: http://kck.st/sSwdQs


Doug Block
Thu 22 Dec 2011Link

I second your recommendation, James. Jane's an old friend of mine and we've worked together on 3 films as producers (including my own Home Page). But separating that out, it's a project well worth supporting. Leacock is, indeed, a towering figure in doc history.


Jacob Bricca
Tue 7 Feb 2012Link

In reply to Marj Safinia's post on Thu 17 Mar 2011 :

I'm honored to see La Mancha (which I edited) in such esteemed company. It was a tough edit. At times it seemed like our film, too, would suffer the fate of Gilliam's!


Jacob Bricca
Tue 7 Feb 2012Link

In reply to John Burgan's post on Sat 10 Dec 2011 :

Thanks so much for putting up this link to "Glass." I've looked for it online before and never found it.


Jacob Bricca
Tue 7 Feb 2012Link

A recent one that really impressed me was "Better This World", which was on POV last season. Wow. An amazing story, and inspired use of archival and reenactments.


Nick Verbitsky
Tue 7 Feb 2012Link

Just saw SENNA....was very impressed w the storytelling, more so w the fact that no orig footage was shot for it....


Rhonda Moskowitz
Sat 3 Mar 2012Link

One of my favorite docs is "Lake of Fire," directed by Tony Kaye. I'm reminded of it, because of his recent narrative feature, "Detachment," which will soon have a theatrical release.

http://www.tonykaye.com/index.php/films/detail/lake_of_fire_trailer/


Constance Ryder
Sun 18 Mar 2012Link

i will never forget "The land of wandering souls" by Cambodian Rithy Panh


John Burgan
Mon 30 Apr 2012Link

A historical curiosity rather than a great work, but fascinating nonetheless: painter Edvard Munch's home movies, shot in Spring 1927 on a Pathé-Baby with a 9,5 mm. film cassette


John Burgan
Thu 3 May 2012Link

Munch's "The Scream" just sold for $120m at auction

A wealth of fascinating archive has recently been put online by The British Council

Edited Thu 3 May 2012 by John Burgan

Raymund Gerard C. Cruz
Tue 8 May 2012Link

This is not as self promotion, but for "friendship" promotions.

My good friend and former co-producer, Waise Azimi, made this interesting documentary a few years back. It's called STANDING UP and its about an Afghan military unit as they go through recruitment. (I don't want to give too much away).

It's been around in the festival circuit and finally got picked up by a distribution company.

If you want to see another perspective on war, catch STANDING UP!

Here is the official website: http://www.standingupthemovie.com/index.htm

You can purchase the DVD on Amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Standing-Up-Taking-Over-The/dp/B0064EGS66


Florian Aurel Augustin
Tue 8 May 2012Link Tag

According to several Indonesian environmental NGOs (REDD-Monitor and
WatchIndonesia) “Cari Hutan" might be the most informative, educative,
yet thrilling and amusing documentary ever made in Indonesia about the
subject of deforestation. “Cari Hutan” is, above all, a road movie
that takes the audience on an adventurous journey, by hitchhiking and boat, through
Kalimantan in search of the last remaining forests. The filmmaker looks into the issue of deforestation, its causes, its effects on the country and what we can do to improve the situation. Eventually it
follows the traces of destruction to Jakarta and Germany. Not only
locals, the inhabitants of the forests, farmers and loggers are being
interviewed, but also prominent journalists, scientist and most
importantly Prof. Bungaran Saragih, former Minister of Agriculture and
Forestry of Indonesia, who is responsible for a large part of the
destruction.


Piers Sanderson
Mon 21 May 2012Link

I recently saw Gypsy Blood on TV in the UK and was incredibly happy to see this style of doc (no voice over and space between the scenes) on main stream TV with a prime-time slot of 10pm. The trailer makes it look like a doc on bare knuckle fighting. But this, i believe, was just a way to sell it to the masses as in fact it goes much deeper than that, in to a community and their values, as well as the relationship between father and sons. A first ever film, shot by photographer Leo Maguire on a Canon 5D it looks beautiful and i hope gets some festival showings as it deserves to be seen on a large screen.
The embed video would not take this URL for some reason –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldDwfNLD5F8


John Burgan
Wed 15 Aug 2012Link

Tribute to an almost entirely forgotten documentary filmmaker: Robert Vas came to London as a refugee from Hungary in 1956, to make over thirty films in the next twenty years, most of them for the BBC. This tribute made shortly after his death in 1978 is presented by fellow exile Karel Reisz (note that the film starts very quietly)

Full disclosure: a decade ago, I tried to make a film portrait of Vas with producer John Wyver, but we couldn't get anywhere with the BBC (a certain commissioning editor's explanation being "we're interested in the future not the past"); in the meantime, many of those who knew him have passed on themselves. Check out this entry on Vas, Robert who? on the excellent blog John maintains for his company Illuminations.

Edited Wed 15 Aug 2012 by John Burgan

Fiona Otway
Mon 3 Sep 2012Link

Just saw THE ACT OF KILLING at the Telluride Film Festival (its world premiere, I believe). I had to pick up my jaw off the floor after they turned on the lights at the end of the show. This has been one of the most talked about films of the festival and I can't wait to hear the broader doc community react to this one.....


Margot Roth
Mon 3 Sep 2012Link

Wow. That looks astonishing.


Danielle Beverly
Mon 3 Sep 2012Link

Fiona, what was your personal reaction, thoughts?


Doug Block
Mon 3 Sep 2012Link

Already heard amazing things about The Act of Killing. What else did you see there that you liked, Fiona?

Show hidden content

Daniel McGuire
Sun 9 Sep 2012Link

In reply to Fiona Otway's post on Mon 3 Sep 2012 :

That's amazing. The only other doc treatment of the 65' massacres is in a multi-part Australian doc "Riding the Tiger", which used some B/W footage from the time. (BBC I think). My doc on the Indonesian Student movement of 98 used some BBC footage and interviewed some of the survivors and witnesses. I have a good friend in Indonesia, Lexy Rambedeta, who has also worked on this issue.


John Burgan
Mon 10 Sep 2012Link

Watch Sean McAllister's films for free at Doc Alliance between Sept 10-16

Sean McAllister is a British documentary filmmaker who has brought stories from Israel, Iraq, Japan, and most recently Syria and Yemen. Sean's films portray people with characteristic intimacy and frankness, specifically in the film Japan: A Story of Love and Hate.

Watch the retrospective of a filmmaker who Michael Moore marks as "one of the most brave and powerful filmmakers around" for FREE from September 10 to 16


Pablo Alvarez
Tue 11 Sep 2012Link

In reply to Fiona Otway's post on Mon 3 Sep 2012 :

A friend of mine just saw it at TIFF and was one of his favourite films. The other very intriguing doc at TIFF is Leviathan by Lucien Castaing-Taylor (Sweetgrass) and Véréna Paravel.. can't wait to watch those films.


Fiona Otway
Tue 11 Sep 2012Link

In reply to Danielle Beverly's post on Tue 4 Sep 2012 :

I thought THE ACT OF KILLING was fascinating for its attentive form/content relationships, which raise lots of juicy questions about the representation of history (personal/social/political), propaganda, memory, truth, witnessing, power, violence, forgiveness, performance, transformation.... Some people in the audience were very suspicious of having been emotionally manipulated by the filmmaker, others had moral qualms with the premise of the film as well as the filmmaker giving voice to warlords (similar to critiques of REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTTNAKED, I think), and some were concerned about sensationalizing genocide. Personally, I think this is one of those films that leaves you with way more questions than answers – questions that you have to really ponder for a while and hopefully talk to others about too – and I loved it for that reason. There are so many layers for discussion in this film.... I really enjoyed hearing the director, Joshua Oppenheimer, speak about the film too – a very thoughtful guy.


Fiona Otway
Tue 11 Sep 2012Link

In reply to Doug Block's post on Tue 4 Sep 2012 :

None of the other films I saw really affected me as strongly as THE ACT OF KILLING. But I also ended up seeing more fiction than documentary at this festival.

THE GATEKEEPERS was another very popular doc at the festival. It has some incredible historical significance, however in terms of form, it's a fairly conventional talking heads documentary. The motion graphics were very impressive immersive 3D recreations of archival photographs.

WADJDA was very charming. A simple story about a spunky Saudi Arabian girl who wants a bicycle. Well told and satisfying. First-ever film by a Saudi Arabian woman, they said.

GINGER AND ROSA was pretty and sweet. Made me want to see more of the director, Sally Potter's work. That said, I met a few people at the festival who walked out of this screening because they were bored and disappointed.

NO was a little too long, but interesting. Also deliberately plays with the relationship between form and content. I'm still thinking about it.

AMOUR won the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year. Most everyone I talked to loved this film, but I saw a short documentary on the same subject at Full Frame earlier this year, and I was way more moved by that.

Wish I could have seen STORIES WE TELL, WHAT IS THIS FILM CALLED LOVE, and PARADISE LOVE. I've been hearing great things.

Pablo, I'm also very eager to see LEVIATHAN!


Doug Block
Tue 11 Sep 2012Link

I'm really eager to see STORIES WE TELL. More than anything.


Chuck Fadely
Mon 17 Sep 2012Link

I saw SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN last night in a regular commercial Regal movie theater with a Sony 4k projector. Wow, how nice to see a good doc on a great screen with great audio. So glad to see docs getting some decent venues lately.

Did a search here looking for more info on the Sundance audience winner and haven't seen anyone mention it, so thought I'd recommend it.

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, by Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul, is a quest story. Some South African fans of 1970's Detroit musician 'Rodriguez', (bigger than Elvis and the Beatles in SA but in total obscurity in the US,) try to find out what happened to the "better than Dylan" voice that fueled revolt against apartheid. Well-told story that holds your attention and it has great music. Good production values. Not challenging, so ranks high in entertainment value.

Interesting to see how they put the story together with a slow reveal yet managed to keep it engaging. Great use of animation in some scenes.

The official trailer on YouTube is ad-ridden, so here's one with subtitles (movie is in English.)


Riley Morton
Mon 17 Sep 2012Link

that got good reviews here in Seattle – yet i didn't see it. sounds like you liked it pretty well, but wouldn't necessarily give it an "A"?


Jason Osder
Mon 17 Sep 2012Link

I think I wrote about this in the bar or the member's doc section.

I would give it an A. It is very well made and unexpected. I don't want to give away anything, so see it, then we can discuss.


Katina Dunn
Mon 17 Sep 2012Link

"Searching For Sugarman" is a wonderful story. Sixto Rodriguez is almost like a bodhisattva – ok I won't give anything away.

I did wonder if the people who produced his earlier records really understood him. They put all this lush, syrupy instrumental sound under his very strong guitar & voice. I wonder if that is why the albums tanked in the U.S. His lyrics are still relevant.


Chuck Fadely
Mon 17 Sep 2012Link

In reply to Riley Morton's post on Mon 17 Sep 2012 :

Oh, I LOVED Searching for Sugarman. Great film. Definitely an A. When I said "not challenging," I meant that it doesn't beat you over the head with academic or intellectual highbrow-ness. Like most great stories, it's simple and lovely.


Chris Caliman
Tue 18 Sep 2012Link

hi, im new here and a freelance filmmaker and cinematographer from germany...
nice community here and so i decidet to show you my documentaryteaser i done... i think the hole film is very interesting and some times probably controversal...

"Tarna" is a 40min. documentary film about "Lady Tarna", a extrem/scat domina from Berlin. I followed her one day with the camera, to show the everydays life of a domina, but also to show the person behind.

i shot the hole film alone in one day... this was the concept, beeing only one day with tarna and triying to make it as real as possibly...

hope you like the small teaser...

greets

Edited Tue 18 Sep 2012 by John Burgan

John Burgan
Tue 18 Sep 2012Link

Chris, welcome to The D-Word, but please read the text at the top of this Page which makes it absolutely clear that posting your own work is not what this Topic is for.

As such, the link to your video has been removed. You are welcome to repost as suggested. Thanks.


Chris Caliman
Tue 18 Sep 2012Link

hi john and sorry for this, i read it now on the top of this topic... sorry and greets


Marth Christensen
Tue 18 Sep 2012Link

Just saw this short, Caine's Arcade, about a 9 year old boy who built a cardboad arcade in his dad's used car parts shop in Los Angeles. It is an amazing story, where a filmmaker was Caine's first customer and he was so impressed, he created a flash mob set of customers last October. The whole thing has really exploded, including a Cardboard Challenge for kids around the world, coming up on 6 October.


Riley Morton
Fri 21 Sep 2012Link

In reply to Marth Christensen's post on Tue 18 Sep 2012 :

isn't that piece just fantastic? didn't know about the 'cardboard challenge.' thats very cool.


Jake Smith
Tue 2 Oct 2012Link
[link removed by host]
Lovely to see a film about India in such a lighthearted way.

Please check it out x

Edited Tue 2 Oct 2012 by John Burgan

John Burgan
Tue 2 Oct 2012Link

Jake – this looks a lot of fun, but you have clearly not read the statement at the top of this page which makes it clear that this topic is not to showcase your own work. Feel free however to repost the link in the suggested topic.


Jason Boone
Sat 13 Oct 2012Link

This is a great short piece. I looked back and didn't see this posted, so I thought I would share. I especially like the end where Burns talks about his mother and how it relates to his film making. Fascinating stuff, and so true.

Edited Sat 13 Oct 2012 by Jason Boone

Elissa Bogos Mirzaei
Thu 18 Oct 2012Link

In reply to Jason Boone's post on Sat 13 Oct 2012 :

Yes, I loved that short piece about Ken Burns, especially when he mentions who he's "actually trying to wake up."


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